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Telling sexual auto-ethnography: (fictional) stories of the (homo)sexual in social science

Carey, Neil Martin (2014) Telling sexual auto-ethnography: (fictional) stories of the (homo)sexual in social science. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

The dissertation is an autoethnographic exploration of some of the meanings available, from within a contemporary British urban context, in naming and locating male same-sex genital relations (Moran, 1996). In particular, the dissertation analyses some of the dynamics at stake in locating male samesex genital relations under the sign ‘gay’. An argument is made for the pervasiveness of this nomenclature in contemporary liberal western contexts in describing male same-sex desire/attraction/activity and, concomitantly, what might be lost in consigning male same-sex sexuality thus. Autoethnography is adopted as a methodological approach in (re)tracing some elements of my biography in order to disrupt the potentially assimilationist impulse attaching to ‘gay’ as a way of normativising male same-sex relations. I adopt this approach given the uneases by which I recognise my own same-sex sexual proclivities as fitting (or not) within the homonormative (Duggan, 2004) excesses of ‘gay’. The autoethnographic approach allows me to reflect on previous experience as a means of que(e)r(y)ing the seeming ease with which ‘gay’ might be seen as accounting for all those who labour under its sign. In particular, I explore (my) Irishness, (my) queered relation to gender, (my) in/disciplined engagements with psychology, (my) Class location and (my) early childhood sexuality in an attempt to explore how these might locate me more queerly in a contemporary socios that has a tendency to render (me as a) males with same-sex inclinations as identifiable and knowable. Alongside this autoethnographic work I explore how writing creative fictions might complement/supplement the impulse to queer ‘gay’. This aspect of the work is borne out of an interest in how Humanities-inspired academic discourses might be brought to bear in bending those Social Science discourses through which I became academic and through which I have come to understand (my) (homo)sexuality. Ultimately, the dissertation is an attempt to find a writing voice that speaks to and for the multiply queered (dis)locations that I have become subject to in ‘becoming’ (academic). It is an attempt to (re)write (my) (homo)sexuality into social science discourse without recourse to those discursive frames that tolerate and/or pathologise. This is my journey into doctoring myself.

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